Hammad stresses for exploiting demographic dividends to boost economy

By Asad Cheema

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar on Friday said the government was committed to invest in country’s huge demographic dividends and turn its immense potential into vibrant economy. He said this will also enhance opportunities in the job market, generate revenues and put the country on path of development and prosperity.
Hammad Azhar was delivering the keynote address as Chief Guest at the concluding session of the two-day “Thought Leaders Summit 2020†organized by the British Council in Pakistan. The event was attended by large number of experts in the fields of research, higher education, digital, creative and cultural economies.
The Minister spoke on a variety of subjects ranging from creative economy to higher education, digital economy, equality, inclusivity and enabling environment and reiterated the government’s resolve to turn all these challenges into opportunities.
Sharing the vision of job creation for youth, Hammad Azhar said Pakistan could garner huge benefit from its demographic dividends. Other countries like Indonesia, Japan, China and India have taken advantage of their demographic potential but unfortunately, Pakistan despite the fact it has worlds’ richest potential in that particular field, has not utilized it.â€
He said : “We are committed to generating opportunities in the job market in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the government, by branding Pakistan’s potential of demographic richness.†Hammad Azhar also spoke on the subject of digital economy and said in this field too, Pakistan had not performed well in the past. “Digital starts-ups usually begin with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) ,†he said adding there was a time when this particular sector’s share used to be 16% but in recent years it has steadily declined to 8%.â€
He said “State of Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, has taken bold initiatives and in next three to four years, it will be back at the 16% and we shall make a further increase in it.†On the subject of Creative Economy, the Minister said Pakistan lagged in that sector too. “We need to brand our culture and heritage as small countries with limited sources are generating huge revenue by investing in creative economy.â€
Lauding the work done by British Council’s Research Evaluation and Monitoring Unit (REMU), Hammad Azhar said there was a need to enhance Higher Education budget particularly development budget. Although the development part of higher education was registering considerable raise, yet it needed to be increased and the government was well aware of it, he added.
About equality and inclusivity in education, he said the government would ensure uniform curriculum at school level by the mid of the next year. “Unless we give our youth a level playing field, we cannot expect to utilize their potential in maximum way†, he added.
The British Council, he said, has done a great job by providing a platform for discussing fundamental issues of inclusive development, challenges in higher education, dissemination of knowledge and sharing data. He said: “This is ideal time that we turn liability into opportunity and this can be made possible only by investing in right direction at right time.â€
Country Director of the British Council in Pakistan, Amir Ramzan in his vote of thanks said the summit was aimed at bringing together stakeholders to initiate dialogue for improving socio-economic status of Pakistanis across the board, especially young people. “We are delighted to host thought leaders from across Pakistan to discuss the importance of research in social, cultural and economic growth,†he said.
This initiative “Thought Leaders’ Summit 2020†will help build connections, understanding and trust among different sectors, said Amir Ramzan adding the British Council worked with several stakeholders in Pakistan and the UK to produce quality research, for addressing some key challenges to in the form of policy.